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Opportunities abound in the public sector

The public service offers a vast range of jobs to suit almost every skill and qualification

Almost 400,000 are employed in Ireland’s public sector. That includes the civil and public services as well as commercial and non-commercial semi-State bodies and covers almost every possible job type from archaeologist to zoologist. Photograph: iStock

Almost 400,000 are employed in Ireland’s public sector. That includes the civil and public services as well as commercial and non-commercial semi-State bodies and covers almost every possible job type from archaeologist to zoologist. Photograph: iStock


Almost 400,000 people are employed in Ireland’s public sector. That includes the civil and public services as well as commercial and non-commercial semi-State bodies and covers almost every possible job type from archaeologist to zoologist.

The Public Appointments Service, which operates the publicjobs.ie website, is the centralised provider of recruitment and selection services for the public sector. It is also responsible for the recruitment of non-executive directors for more than 200 State boards.

And the numbers involved are impressive. “If you look at recruitment activity up to the end of October 2018, we had 373 advertised posts,” says head of search Michelle Noone. “Some of these involved large volumes of available positions. We received just under 79,000 applications, we interviewed 12,300 people, and assigned just over 7,000 candidates.”

About a third of the organisation’s work is recruiting for Government departments at all levels, she adds. “There are eight grades in the civil service and six of these from clerical officer upwards would be large-volume campaigns,” she says. At the top, recruitment for secretary general and assistant secretary appointments is directed at individuals.

For local authorities, the Public Appointments Service is responsible for recruitment at chief executive level. “We also look after director of services and professional and technical recruitment. This includes engineers and planners, architects and surveyors and so on. We recruit for the Garda Síochána at commissioner and deputy commissioner level as well as for Garda trainees and the Garda reserve.”

While the HSE looks after much of its own recruitment, the Public Appointments Service looks after senior-level appointments such as director general and national directors as well as medical consultants.

“There is a lot of recruitment going on right across the board,” Noone adds. “The health sector is one that sticks out in terms of high levels of activity. There is also a lot going on at local authority level. We are recruiting for a lot of technical posts like ICT managers, head of finance, engineers, architects and planners. Candidates need professional qualifications for these posts. A professional qualification from one of the accountancy bodies is required for a head of finance role, for example.”

Looking forward to the new year, she says a number of specialist posts in the Department of Social Protection will be advertised, as will the role of chief executive of the Charities Regulator, director general of the Workplace Relations Commission, and a number of tax appeal commissioner roles.

“We will also be doing at least one campaign for Garda trainees and for Civil Service clerical officers,” she adds.

Garda trainees

Applicants to become Garda trainees must be over 18 years of age; be of good character; be certified by a registered medical practitioner to be of good health, of sound constitution and fitted physically and mentally to perform the duties of a member of the service; and have passed a physical competence test.

They must also have obtained an Irish Leaving Certificate with a grade D3 minimum in five subjects at ordinary level or hold a Level 5 certificate (major award) on the National Framework of Qualifications or hold a recognised comparable qualification. In addition, they must have a proven proficiency in two languages – one of which must be Irish or English.

Garda trainees receive €184 a week during their initial 32 weeks of training. During this time, accommodation and food is provided by the Garda College. After 32 weeks, Garda trainees move on to the Garda incremental pay scale, which starts at €23,171 and rises to €42,138 after eight years.

Clerical officer

The role of clerical officer can vary depending on the organisation involved. Duties can include general clerical work; working as part of a team in delivering public services; working with the latest technology to record and advance services; supporting line-managers and colleagues; and communicating and providing a quality public service to customers. The entry requirements are typically a minimum Leaving Certificate level.

The starting salary is €23,338 rising to €39,112 on a 16-point scale.

Among the key benefits of the role are the training and development opportunities it offers. These vary depending on the specific role offered, the organisation or department involved, and the skills required to carry out the job in the role.

Depending on the role, clerical officers can expect to advance their personal skills in a wide range of different ways and could have the opportunity to up-skill and develop professionally through high-quality training programmes, mentoring and support systems, and internal training initiatives, all aimed at providing the skills and knowledge required to succeed in a results-oriented role in the public service.

The health service

The HSE is the largest single employer in the State, with more than 100,000 employees. More than 67,000 are direct employees, with the remainder employed by agencies funded by the HSE. The organisation’s stated aim is to be an “employer of choice” and it offers a wide range of challenging career opportunities.

There is a very broad range of occupations employed in the health sector. Most people tend to assume it is mainly doctors and nurses, but there is a vast number of careers within the sector. Positions in the medical area include medical consultants, non-consultant hospital doctors, public health doctors and medical officers. Within the nursing sector, positions may arise for clinical nurse managers, clinical nurse specialists, staff nurses, theatre nurses, emergency nurses, public health nurses and midwives. Dental positions include dental surgeons and orthodontists.

Included in the allied health and social care professionals category are all therapies such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, radiography, psychology, social workers, emergency medical technicians, and audiology.

Career opportunities in the management/administration/ICT category range from finance to general administration, human resources, health promotion, corporate affairs and IT. Roles in the general support area include attendants, drivers, general operatives, nurses’ aides, home helps and supplies officers.

Technical and maintenance roles include draughtsmen, electricians, engineers, maintenance craftsmen and technicians, mechanics, plasterers, plumbers and technical services officers. Catering and housekeeping opportunities include catering officers, chefs, cooks, dining room staff, housekeeping staff, porters and laundry staff.

Salary scales vary from role to role and can be found on the HSE website. (hse.ie/eng/staff/benefitsservices/pay/)

All vacancies in the HSE are advertised on the HSE website (hse.ie/eng/staff/jobs/job-search/).